By Mr. Matthew D Hickman (ARNEWS)August 24, 2010
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 24, 2010) -- The best resource for forming and training a well-qualified Afghan National Police force is "time," said the Italian general responsible for recruiting and training the security forces who will protect Afghan citizens once the international coalition is gone.
Brig. Gen. Carmelo Burgio, commanding general, Combined Training Advisory Group - Police, NTM-A/CSTC-A, said the problem won't be solved in one month or even one year, but new leadership courses are set to address issues once ignored.
"We're able to develop some quality courses," Burgio said. "We were able to develop two-cycle seminars about gender issues, domestic violence, sexual abuse and women integration in the police."
The first ANP staff colleges, set to open at the end of December, will consist of 2,000 candidates currently enrolled in the ANP Academy. Each college will offer training in explosive ordnance disposal, basic survival skills and preventing corruption, with specific courses determined by placement afterward.
The training provided at the colleges was created through guidance and suggestions by the Afghan government. There has been a shift in philosophy, however. Police forces no longer receive training based on what the government would like, Burgio said, rather, "they are trained on what they need to learn."
The critical training also includes lessons in marksmanship, reacting to an ambush, creating a defensive perimeter, attacking a small position and defending a checkpoint. The ANP is not expected to be an military force, however.
"We don't want to militarize the police," Burgio said. "We want to take a holistic approach to the training."
The courses offered at the staff colleges are being developed at a time when corruption is rampant, and problems with recruiting and protecting recruits from insurgents are still an issue.
Senior ANP leadership is participating in programs that inform and educate how to avoid and detect corruption. Coalition forces are battling corruption from within by changing the salary distribution process, for instance. But solving the problems requires cooperation from many elements.
"We have to talk about a corrupt region," Burgio said. "Only with a global, holistic approach can we solve the problem of corruption."
Attrition and retention rates in recruiting are also stubborn issues that are slowly turning around. A salary increase on par with private security guards, improved living conditions and President Ahmed Karzai's decision to incorporate private security companies under the Ministry of Interior should solve issues of attrition, Burgio said.
"If we were able to slow down the attrition we could increase and expand the period of training," Burgio said. "That's important because longer training provides better skills."
A literacy program designed to professionalize security forces is hoped to help solve the retention predicament. The literacy program will give leadership the opportunity to attend schools specializing in logistics, maintenance and intelligence. The training is a source of pride for participants, Burgio said.
Insurgents can affect recruiting by carrying out violence that discourages new recruits. Coalition forces can protect candidates when they are inside training centers, but a larger presence tasked with fighting the Taliban and the insurgents can improve recruiting numbers, Burgio said.
"When I arrived here ten months ago, more or less, two-thirds of actions were defensive," Burgio said. "Now, the percentage is completely different, and two-thirds of the action is offensive. It means we are pushing against the Taliban, and this is direct protection of our students."
Coalition forces are going to receive the resources to solve problems associated with creating a proficient security force, but they've got to change the mindset and that could take years, Burgio said.